HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, July 19, 2022 – It’s only appropriate that before my Saratoga sojourn starts, today’s Diary begins with the dateline above. It’s not often that I get to use the cliché… but I knew them when.
I met Dean and Patti Reeves in 2008 in a hotel elevator on U.S. 1 directly across from Gulfstream Park at a time when I lived in Saratoga, and before Toni and I became a pair of dreaded snowbirds.
The Reeves’ were there to meet Tim Ritvo whose task was to introduce himself to the Reeves and other racetrackers in general. They were interested in becoming owners, and successful business people do their homework.
Ritvo, a former jockey, a trainer, and an active member of the Florida HBPA, met them in the lobby, and not long after became their trainer. Eventually, Ritvo was offered an opportunity with The Stronach Group which he took, literally handing the reins over to his wife, Kathy.
There were a few starts and stops, as with any new venture, but it wasn’t long before they bought into a Florida-bred juvenile that had showed some ability and purchased a majority interest after the colt’s promising debut.
A tall, scopey type, so promising was he that he rated a chance to prove himself in New York that fall after breaking maiden in late summer at Monmouth Park. And the colt did well, too, finishing second in both the Nashua and Remsen Stakes.
At 3, the colt, Mucho Macho Man, won the Risen Star Stakes and danced in all three classics, finishing third in the 2011 Kentucky Derby. At five, the late developer reached his peak in November of 2013 and won the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Not often, but sometimes dreams do come true.
The Reeves’ continued to re-invest in the game and hired bloodstock adviser Jay Stone to help put together an equine portfolio. Stone and Kathy Ritvo hired Jim Gladwell three years ago to scout the sales and manage a farm Reeves purchased with a partner In Ocala, replete with a training center.
On opening weekend in Saratoga, it all came together when Reeves Thoroughbreds and partners won the G3 Forbidden Apple with New York-bred City Man, and Sunday’s G3 Quick Call with Big Invasion for his fourth straight sprint stakes, both victories provided by Turf-Team Clement/Rosario.
HRI has rooted for this couple in earnest since learning that on the day after a tropical storm caused the evacuation of 350 horses and destroyed housing on the Gulfstream Park West backside in 2015, trucks arrived the following day with new mattresses for backstretch workers, thanks to their humanity and generosity.
And they did that all very quietly, no publicity, no fanfare, only a thoughtful deed. The first weekend of this Saratoga meet, Reeves’ horses did all the talking. Good job all around.
Saratoga-154 Off To Fast Start
The Reeves horses were two of Clement’s four wins on opening weekend, tying him for the Spa lead with Chad Brown. Brad Cox is currently third with three, including promising Sanford winner G3 Mo Strike. We like the way he battled and headstretch and lengthened stride late; follow.
The Clement horses helped Joel Rosario take a 7-6 lead over Jose Ortiz, who hit for the cycle on Sunday. Older bother Irad Jr. presently is third with five winners. Good to see Dylan Davis and Flavien Prat get off the duck over the weekend, too. Pressure down, confidence up going forward.
Although it may not seem like it, favorites are winning at nearly 32%, going 13* for 41 after five winning public choices on Sunday.
And the bean counters could not be happier, not with All-Sources handle up over 18% and paid attendance up 10% year over year. More than $106.4-million was bet over the first four days of the meet. Let’s see if that upward trend holds when the surf meets on the turf on Friday. We’re betting it will.
Gentlemen, Start Your Watches
I have not been keeping a close eye on turf times at the meet but Saturday’s ninth-race turf event jumped off the television screen. Here were the posted times for a 9-furlong preliminary allowances, which still appeared in the official charts on Monday: 22.86, 49.02, 1:13.83, 1:37.24 and 1:48.69.
Breaking down the splits, fractional quarter times were 22.86, 26.16, 24.81, 23.41 and 11.45, the final three-eighths in 34.86, for a final time of 1:48.69. Of course, the ground was firm and quick.
In Italian’s course record Diana at the same trip was clocked in 1:45.06, following splits of 22.45, 23.38, 23.67, the final three-eighths going in 35.56, an excellent finish given the extraordinary splits. But we can’t say what the mile time went in because it was “N/A” according to the official chart.
Credit Event’s gate placement shows a 120-foot run-up, with the temporary rail set out 9 feet. Gate placement for the Diana shows a 100-foot run-up with a temporary rail placement at 12 feet. Clearly, there are timing issue here and greater minds than ours need to figure it all out.
Maybe someone should place a call to Bill Badgett at Gulfstream Park and inquire as to their new beam system whereby there is no runup and the timing begins as soon as the latch is sprung. Even with my limited math skills, this process has to yield more accurate timing data.
SARATOGA RACE COURSE
SUSIE O’CAIN STAKES Race 9
The Skinny: How does one challenge the white-hot Clement/Rosario turf juggernaut? With trepidation but you know what it is about the nexus of guts and glory, so try we must. That’s entertainment:
Most handicappers probably believe it’s futile to buck the Clement/Rosario turf trend and they may well be right. Bu the struggle for value is ongoing.
She’s a Mia (7-5) and Dufresne (8-1) exit the same race on July 2. The former got the best of the later hat day, outrunning her for the place in the final strides. But it was Dufresne who did most of the dirty pace work and was only defeated by 3/4s of a length in the final strides.
That was a quickly-run 7 furlongs at Belmont. The bottom side of Dufresne’s pedigree says she will handle the extra distance. Drawn inside and reuniting with Johnny, we’ll rely on his savvy to reverse the recent result and the remaining four horses as well. Price would dictate anyway.
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Dufresne
EARLY-LINE VALUE: Dufresne
STRAIGHT AND EXOTICA: Taking Dufresne to win at 7-2 or greater. Exacta Box: 2-5. Trifecta Wheel 2-5 // 2-3-5 // 2-3-5
*correction 071922, 2:43 pm